Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and likely future UFC Hall of Famer Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz fought for the first time in almost a year last Saturday night and despite looking fresher than he has in any recent memory, his efforts were still not enough to overcome former pupil Matt Hamill. Despite being outworked soundly throughout the last two rounds of their three round bout, Ortiz told media at the post-fight press conference Saturday night that he has no intentions of hanging up his gloves.
“No way I’m done,” said Ortiz. “I’m not even close to the end of my career. Besides my face being a little sore, I have no problems. I’ve got to hop back on the horse, get back to a college and start wrestling again. The hunger is there. My heart hurts, but my mind stays strong. It’s a challenge.”
Ortiz’s hiatus was caused by a severe neck injury which he received experimental fusion surgery to correct; though it has become his modus operandi to point to such injuries as reasons for his Octagon failures, Ortiz made no such excuses Saturday night. The MMA veteran said that Hamill was the better man Saturday and that his only option from here is to improve and come back a better competitor.
“I was a few steps behind. I made a few mistakes,” he said. “I didn’t defend his takedowns the way I wanted to. My future is back in the gym. I have to do the work. I want to prevail. It sucks having losses, but I’m the type of person to suck it up and continue. I’ve been doing this for 13 years, and I still have a lot more in me. I’ve got to get back to wrestling. I’ll be back 100 percent.”
“The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” expressed self-pride in stepping up to take on Hamill after dealing with the injuries and personal issues that he has and he promised to return to the cage to make it up to those he let down at UFC 121.
“These last few years, I’ve been through a lot. A lot of people would have quit. I don’t quit,” said Ortiz. “I’m going to continue on fighting. I let down my fans, the UFC, [UFC President] Dana [White].”
UFC 121 went down Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. Post-fight, Dana White indicated that he believes Ortiz has lost relevance in the UFC’s current 205-pound division so it will be interesting to see how the two reconcile Ortiz’s desire to return to action with White’s doubts.